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Creating new InstantForum skins

To create a new InstantForum skin simply navigate to your InstantForum skins folder. If you've installed locally this is typically "C:\inetput\wwwroot\InstantForum\Skins\".

You should see the default skins provided with InstantForum as sown below…

To create a new skin simply copy the "Classic" skin folder and paste this back into the "Skins" directory as shown below. You can use any of the existing skins as a basis for your new skin allowing you to pick the skin to most closely matches your existing color scheme or layout.

Copy a Provided Skin Folder

Make a copy of one of the provided default skin folders. In this example our new skin will be based off the Classic skin provided with InstantForum so in this instance we'll simply create a copy of the "Classic" Skin Folder...

Rename Your Skin Folder

Provide a unique name for your skin folder. This name is not displayed within InstantForum however it should be unique to ensure you can easily identify your skin...

Warning: Please don't use spaces in skin folder names. Some items may not load if your skin folder name contains the space character. Please don't use any special characters within skin folder names. 

Update the Skin.xml File

The Skin.xml is required within the root of each skin folder to allow InstantForum to identify available skins. The name you specify within the Skin.xml file will be the name displayed when selecting skins within InstantForum.

You should open the Skin.xml file within NotePad or similar plain text editor and provide a name for your skin to help identify the skin within InstantForum...

Open Skin.xml and you should see the following XML...

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- Skin Definition File -->
<!-- If visible is false the skin will only be available to select within the admin area -->
<Name>My Custom Skin</Name>
<Author>Ryan Healey</Author>

Simply updated the highlighted area to provide a unique name for your cusztom skin. This will be the name displayed within the skin selection drop drop within InstantForum.

Checking InstantForum is aware of your Skin

You should now see your new skin available for selection within InstantForum. To update the skin used by InstantForum you'll need to login as an administrator & access your Admin CP. Click the Forum Settings link on the left and locate the "Skin" drop down list. Simply select your new skin and save the changes.

We do cache the skins within memory to ensure we don't have to recurse the skins directory on every page request. For this reason if you don't see your skin immediately appear within the forum Admin CP please recycle the application pool used for InstantForum within IIS or make a small change to the Web.config file. This will recycle the web application clearing the ASP.NET cache and forcing InstantForum to scan your skins again.

Customizing your New Skin

Now you know how to create new skins and make InstantForum aware of your custom skin the next step is to start customizing your skin. Customization typically consist of modifying the skin style sheet colours, skin images & skin master page.

For most visual changes you can use the build in theme roller within InstantForum. If you intend to make more advanced customizations please see the other articles available here.